By Sylvia Gurinsky
French President Nicholas Sarkozy tried to reverse his softening support by going hard. Now, he's got little support.
If the way he treated gypsies angered not just many in France but also across Europe, then his plans for raising the retirement age from 60 to 62 for budget reasons really tipped the pot.
Like Social Security here, France's pension system is the program with the "Don't Touch" sign. In polls, a majority of the French people have supported those who have gone on strike and used other forms of protest. Though the French parliament is expected to approve Sarkozy's reforms, strikers are expected to continue their efforts.
The last time France had strikes this serious, the legendary Charles de Gaulle was president. Sarkozy was already no de Gaulle before these troubled last couple of months, and with an election looming for him within the next two years, he may face the same fate - defeat - if he doesn't soften his hard line.